Philippine Psychiatric Association
The Philippines is a country in which psychiatry is taboo. Despite being a very modernized and Americanized nation for the most part, plenty of Filipinos still hold onto old traditional and religious beliefs. Psychological disorders are not seen as such, but are thought of as demonic possessions and the like. Majority of Filipinos don’t even know the difference between paranoid schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder.
This is why the Philippine Psychiatric Association (PPA) has such a huge role to play in our country today. It is this group that studies psychiatry as a field of medicine and how this study of mental illnesses can be applied to our religious and superstitious Philippine society. In essence, this group composed of psychiatrists that aim to improve the state of psychiatry as a competent and reliable medical field in the country.
Aside from trying to change the way Filipinos look at psychiatry, the group is the official representative of all psychiatrists in the Philippines. It aims to improve the way this field of medicine is taught in schools and universities as well as improving the residencies for those undergoing psychiatric training. Furthermore, the group aims to protect the rights of those who are mentally ill by drafting and supporting laws that will aid them in the future.
Structure-wise, the PPA is divided into various committees each with its own head and set of members. Among these committees are the Committee on Psychiatric Education, Committee on Advocacy, Legislation and Multimedia, Committee on Research, and Committee on Ethics. Moreover, there is also a PPA group in charge of the association’s official publication: the Philippine Journal of Psychiatry.
The PPA became official in 1973, with the approval of the Philippine Medical Association. It was only a year later that Dr. Lourdes Ladrido-Ignacio— the group’s founder— handed the reign of leadership over to Dr. Virgilio Santiago. Since the group was formed, the PPA has held conventions on important topics facing psychiatry in the Philippines each year. Topics ranged from the relevance of the medical field in our country to how mental illness affects the family in Philippine job search.
Last January 27, 2004 the PPA celebrated its 30th anniversary. While numerous efforts have been made to change the way Filipinos view psychiatry and mental illness, there is still a lot of work to be done. Research on fields of medicine such as cancer continues to receive more funding and support from governments around the world, so breakthroughs on how to handle mental illnesses are few and far in between.
That is why they named their 30th yearly convention “Reaching Beyond.” Mental illness in the Philippines should be more than just an excuse to escape jail time when you are put on trial. It should be seen as something that can be treated by medicine and constant visits to a well-trained psychiatrist rather than just a demonic possession that goes away after an exorcism is performed by a powerful priest.
At present, these are the responsibilities that PPA’s President Norieta Calma-Balderrama, the board of directors, the rest of the group members, and all the current psychiatrists and future neuropathy treatment in the Philippines continue to strive for. They yearn for a day when psychiatry will be seen as a credible field of medicine that can help make life better for all Filipinos, their families and their friends.
If you want to learn more about the Philippine Psychiatric Association and what it does the best source for reliable information would be the group’s official website. Here, you can read about the group’s history, mission-vision, as well as the latest news about the PPA and upcoming events the association is holding.